Fall of Kabul vs fall of Saigon


Syed Tahir Rashdi
After fighting the “longest war” in its history, the US is now witnessing a complete failure in Afghanistan, a country also known as “the Graveyard of Empires,” which analysts have said is a “page of shame” that the US has written for itself. In 1975, Saigon, the capital of US-backed South Vietnam, fell to Communist-ruled North Vietnam two years after the withdrawal of the American military which had been in the country for 19 years. As the US continues its withdrawal from the Afghan capital, social media has been flooded with pictures of a helicopter evacuating people from the American embassy in Kabul. It’s a familiar image to some. Back in 1975, photographer Hulbert van Es snapped a now-iconic picture of people scrambling into a helicopter on a rooftop in Saigon, at the close of the Vietnam War. Analysts and US lawmakers – both Republican and Democrat – have been comparing the so-called fall of Saigon with the Taliban takeover of Kabul. “This is another Saigon time for the US,” some netizens said. Some said this is the “fall of Kabul” just as the “fall of Saigon” which is a shame in US history.US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tried to defend the evacuation and told media that “Remember, this is not Saigon.” Though US had lost many more troops in the Vietnam War than the Afghan war — in fact over 55,000 troops more — the real loss in Afghanistan is much bigger. While Vietnam War was basically about a communism vs capitalism conflict, the war in Afghanistan owes its origin to control spread of terrorism across the world. As per US Congressional Research Service, US war spending, in 2019 US dollar term, was $843.63 billion in the Vietnam War. The country was directly engaged in the war for 11 years that saw 58,220 US military deaths. The economic cost went as high as 2.3% of GDP in 1968. The Afghanistan war has cost more than the Vietnam War or $910.47 billion in 2019 US dollar value while the total US investment in Afghanistan may be around $2 to $3 trillion dollars as per different estimates. But in terms of human cost of lives, America lost 2,448 soldiers in last 20 years, a casualty figure much less than the Vietnam War. Also, according to a research from the Voice of America, 3,846 US Contractors, 1,144 other allied troops and 444 humanitarian aid workers have also lost their lives during these 20 years. While at its peak, there were over 5,00,000 troops in Vietnam, the Afghanistan peak was around 1,00,000 troops.